Archive for the ‘State Parks’ Category

Off the Beaten Path

The Abandoned Rutland Prison Camp

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

We’re back at it. Did you miss us? Of course you did. After a very long and very shitty winter (it’s even snowing right now as I write this piece…in April), we finally got to do some exploring last weekend for the first time since the New Year. It was a bit of a hike, but it was quite an adventure. The choice was between this place or Hearthstone Castle for us. Though Hearthstone seems really cool, I feel like everyone covers it. This place does not quite get the attention it deserves. Plus, it is allegedly haunted. So we decided to pay it a visit. Buried deep in the woods, at the edge (hopefully) of winter, this is the abandoned Rutland Prison Camp.

I’m going to be honest. Finding any history on this place was difficult. All people could really give me on the history of this place was that it was a prison camp in the early twentieth century and that’s it’s been abandoned for a long time. Not even the official website helped. Luckily, I was able to find one site with some info. So thank you, atlasobscura.com. They really helped. Apparently the prison camp was built to house minor offenders. As the years went on, the camp slowly grew larger and larger. But it was abruptly abandoned in 1934 due to complications with the local water supply.

The abandoned prison camp is located in the heart of what is now Rutland State Park in Rutland, Massachusetts. It’s a nice little park, with some very picturesque views. During the off-season, the road to the prison camp is closed to traffic. Didn’t matter to us, because we would’ve walked in anyway. Also during the off-season, you don’t have to pay to park. Which was nice. It was roughly two miles through the wondrous New England woods until we came upon the ruins of the abandoned camp. Red squirrels scampered through the trees. Wild ducks quacked through the air. And we strangely didn’t encounter many other hikers.

There are three main structures still standing. There is easy access to all three of them. Much like many older cement building from the past, they show little signs of wear and tear. Besides the colorful plethora of graffiti of course. Each structure has its own unique feel to it. Darkness lurks inside, and the colorful murals of spray paint give this place a strange sense of urban beauty. There are underground tunnels that are easily accessible, but we regrettably were unable to enter them. With the snow storm the week prior, the tunnels were flooded with several feet of water. None the less, this place was very cool to explore.

The abandoned Rutland Prison Camp is completely legal to visit. So if hiking and urban exploring is your thing, I would highly recommend it. Of course there was plenty of liter and vandalism around, but that just comes with the territory. It is kind of a hidden gem, and the hike in is very much worth it. Being able to explore this place after a two mile walk is a nice treat. It just goes to show you that you never know what lies off the beaten path. The woods keep many secrets from us. And it’s good to see that old places like the abandoned Rutland Prison Camp still survive. People may have suffered there a hundred years ago, but we are all able to enjoy it today.

Winter is Coming

The Abandoned Rocky Hill Quarry

Written by: Cobra

Photographs by: Lassie

Winter is coming. The leaves have fallen from the trees. The temperature has dropped. It started snowing on my ride into the studio this morning, which I was totally not expecting. If you’re not familiar with it, New England’s winter can be unpredictable and unforgiving. One day it will be beautiful, the next it will be brutal. Plus with the chaos of the holiday season fast approaching, things usually slow down for us a bit here at Abandoned Wonders. Winter is just not a great time for exploring. So we decided to get one last big adventure in before the outdoor season comes to an end. And what better place than the abandoned Rocky Hill Quarry?

Located in the nearby Rocky Hill, Connecticut, Quarry Park was a place I had never heard of. Credit to this find actually goes to onlyinyourstate.com, which is an excellent place to find fun hikes and places to visit. They recently included this park in one of their articles,  and being so close to us, we naturally had to go check it out. For years, Rocky Hill Quarry was a large and profitable business. But times change. Following the closure of the quarry in the 1950’s, the land was eventually rechristened as Quarry Park. With an excellent view of the town and a nice two-mile hike, it is well worth a visit. But it is what’s left of the old quarry that make this place interesting.

The first item to greet you on the walk are the ruins of what is identified on the map as a 1936 Buick, which is now only a rusted hunk of metal. Much further down the line, off a side trail, is what we believe is called The Cave. A short, but rather steep, climb up the rock face will bring you to the first real signs of the abandoned quarry. A few pieces of old machinery rot into the earth, but an old tunnel runs into the side of the cliff. Inside is just one large empty room. Though it is clearly frequented by someone given the contents we found inside. And, much like most stops on this trip, everything was coated in colorful graffiti.

A bit farther down the trail are what remains of the old compressor house and machinery. At quick glance, this place looked very much like some old ancient ruins. With its large stone pillars and intricate design, it makes for a very interesting sight. The layers of vibrant graffiti almost breathe new life into these old structures. The compressor house itself is large and open inside, with a big window in the middle of the ceiling. Many of its old items (including a door, mattress, tools, and a lawnmower) lie strewn about outside it. All kinds of old metal and rocks coat the ground, so always watch your step.

If this is the last place we get to visit this season, I will not be disappointed. The abandoned Rocky Hill Quarry is more than worth a look. Despite the cold, it was a really nice hike and we were able to get some excellent photographs. It is a very unique place, reminding me very much of Fort Wetherill in Rhode Island. Here massive stone structures are a relic from another era, that show no signs of breaking down. And the colorful coat of graffiti makes what should be a dreary place into a far more fascinating one. So if you have time, definitely consider visiting this one sometime soon. After all, winter is coming.

None Shall Pass

The Abandoned Boardman Bridge

Written by: Cobra

Photographs by: Lassie

We take a two night vacation every October to celebrate our anniversary. Sometimes we coordinate our trips to visit abandoned places. For example, one year we stayed two nights in Newport, RI, and explored Fort Wetherill and Fort Mansfield. Other times, we just randomly stumble upon abandoned places. Like last year, we just happened to pass by the abandoned Hogback Mountain Ski Area while vacationing in Vermont. This was our seventh year anniversary trip, and we didn’t have any specific locations we planned to visit. We were just planning on spending a nice few days up in the mountains of Western Connecticut. But much like last year, fate had other plans.

This is the abandoned Boardman Bridge in New Milford, CT. We’ve explored many abandoned bridges in our time, but this one was different. First opening in the late 1800’s, the Boardman Bridge ferried all kinds of traffic across the roaring currents of the Housatonic River. But almost exactly one hundred years since she first started service, a newer, larger, and more modern bridge was built directly beside her. Ironically, this new bridge was also named the Boardman Bridge. And so this old workhorse became dubbed the “Old Boardman Bridge.” She carried on for a short while longer, serving only as a pedestrian bridge, before finally being closed for good in 1984.

Whilst driving through the countryside of New Milford, CT, we came across the abandoned Boardman Bridge. With the grey skies and the gloomy October weather, we just had to stop and take pictures. For being closed since long before either of us were even born, the old bridge is in remarkably good condition. It came as no surprise to us that the town of New Milford is in fact seeking to repair and reopen the old bridge as a pedestrian/cyclist path to connect two neighboring hiking trails. The Old Boardman Bridge may be old, but she still definitely has some fight left in her. Hopefully, someday soon, she will once again find a way to serve her community.

Fallen Attraction

The Abandoned Gillette Castle Railroad

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

In the absence of light, darkness prevails. When there is no heat, there is only cold. And without love, there is nothing left but despair. It’s funny because Gillette Castle, along with Hublien Tower, was one of my favorite places to visit when I was a kid. A short half-hour drive away, it was one of those magical places to visit and get ice cream at during the heydays of summertime. With its winding trails and classical feel, it truly is a sight to see. I honestly believed I had hiked every inch of this park. But I was wrong. Lost deep in the woods and along the rocky banks of the Connecticut River is the fallen attraction of this fabled place – The Gillette Castle Railroad.

Located in picturesque East Haddam, Connecticut, Gillette Castle was the luxurious and mystical castle of prolific actor William Gillette. With no children to leave his estate to, Gillette left the grounds to the state of Connecticut after his passing. Today it is enjoyed by many for its hiking and wonderful view of the Connecticut River. But unbeknownst to most, myself included for a time, is that there once stood a railroad around the estate. Though it was a small train, which can now be viewed at the Visitor’s Center, tracks once covered the entire grounds to carry visitors from place to place. When it was originally sold off, most of the tracks were ripped up and the old railroad disappeared…but not completely.

We made our trip to Gillette Castle on one of the final weekends of summertime 2017. The park was just as lively as I had remembered it. But far down one of the quieter sides of the grounds lie the remains of the railroad. An old bridge has been closed down for being unstable. Another has collapsed into the underbrush. Far down the cliffs by the roaring Connecticut River stand several old pieces of track and framework. Old rusty barrels rot into the fertile forest floor. But the star of the show is by far the old tunnel. Though it may not run as long as we had hoped, inside is pure unadulterated darkness. With its entrance nearly lost to the woods around it, its certainly a fun little walk through.

A special shout-out of this piece goes to our reader who called himself “Mike.” A few weeks ago, he contacted us with several suggestions of places to visit in his area including the Gillette Castle Railroad. And this place really didn’t disappoint. Truth be told, we really don’t get as much fan interaction as we would like. And we love it when people tell us their stories or suggest places for us to explore. It makes this hobby just a little bit more fun and meaningful. I wish that I had been able to see this railroad during its heyday, but alas, it is no more. Though this is more of a hiking piece, the old train tunnel really is pretty cool. And just as this place was highly recommended for us to visit, I encourage you to do the same.

Days Gone By

The Abandoned Car Graveyard

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

We’ve been covering a lot of outdoor stuff recently. But hell, with the weather having been so nice lately, and after a really shitty winter, why not? This place has always been one of my favorites to visit. And before you ask, no we will not be revealing the location of it. People have inquired to us in the past about finding it so in an attempt to scavenge metal and parts from the wrecks. So in an effort to preserve them, we will regrettably not be saying how to find this graveyard. Apologies. But what I can tell you is that it rests alongside the banks of a quiet river on the far reaches of the state. It is quiet as a tomb, and almost entirely untouched by the hands of man.

To the untrained eye, this is merely a quiet wooded area. The only sounds are the faint chirping of the birds and the ambiance of the running river. Unfortunately these woods were also full of ticks. We pulled twelve of those little suckers off us combined. But past the old broken bridge and up the wooded pass lies the most unique graveyard I have ever seen. In place of a line of tombstones, the wrecks of a half dozen classic cars and trucks lie deteriorating into the forest floor. Snakes roam about their interiors. Frightened families of mice roost in their rusted roofs. And these once priceless beauties are now nothing more than piles of junk.

 I have tried to find information about the history or story of this graveyard, but have yet to uncover anything. If anyone has any information, we’d be happy to hear it. How did these old cars get here? The road and any nearby homes are in fact a good distance away. Who did they belong to? Surely someone a long time ago must have once cared for these old wrecks. What strange chain of events led them to their current state? It’s not everyday you see a graveyard of old cars. In good condition, some of these may have been worth a fortune today. In the days gone by, they were once beloved and reliable machines. But now they rot in pieces in a forgotten section of the wild woods.

“One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.” -Ecclesiastes 1:4-11  

Wolves Not Far – The Abandoned Manchester Drive-In

Posted: May 1, 2017 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cinema, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Drive-In, Abandoned Fairgrounds, abandoned home, Abandoned House, abandoned new england, Abandoned Theaters, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Bolton, Broken, Cinema, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Manchester, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, State Parks, Stories, Theater, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing
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Wolves Not Far

The Abandoned Manchester Drive-In

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

We’ve had several encounters with homeless people in the past. I think every experienced urban explorer can say the same. We’ve come across empty tent cities. We’ve heard whispers in dark tunnels. And there are some places where you simply cannot shake the feeling that you are being watched. But this place was different. We hadn’t been to the abandoned Manchester Drive-In since the main lot had been cleared of brush. On our last visit, we thought all there was left to see of this place was old screen still looming high in the sky, along with a few old signs and speakers. But we were wrong. We don’t know who cleared it, but the massive amounts of vegetation have been pealed back to reveal what was once thought to be gone. And apparently, it didn’t take long for the lost and weary to claim this new place as their own.

 Opened in the early 1950’s, the Manchester Drive-In was one of many drive-in theaters to pop up in Connecticut during this time period. As opposed to the drive-in theaters of today, Manchester had only one screen. It could hold over five hundred cars per showing. But over the years, the excitement and the wonder of drive-in movie theaters began to wane. Most of the theaters across the state began to steadily close their doors, including the Manchester Drive-In. Unfortunately, the theater went out of business in the early 1980’s where it sat empty and abandoned for almost twenty years. It was finally purchased locally in 2006 to become a park along the Hop River in Bolton, Connecticut. Today, the former drive-in theater that once held over five hundred eager movie goers is now nothing more than a ruin.

When the brush had been cleared, the old snack bar was exhumed from her resting place. We had long thought that it was gone forever, collapsing under the weight of time. It is beckoning to all in search of exploration. But adventurer’s beware. Inside this old snack bar resides people that do not wish to be disturbed. In the guest sign-in for the park, we found some rather menacing messages: “I will f**king kill anyone who goes to the snack bar,” “Beware the Hobo Camp,” and “Wolves Not Far.” This could all be for nothing. But on our approach toward the old snack bar, we heard music coming from the backroom. As we made our way inside, the music suddenly stopped. Something stirred in the shadows. Whispers emerged from the darkness. We clearly were not welcome here, and didn’t stick around to say hello.

When someone does not want to be disturbed, we have always found it best to not disturb them. Especially when we find some rather threatening messages. The abandoned Manchester Drive-In is well worth a visit, and totally legal to do so as part of the state park. It is a very nice hike, and the old screen is always something to marvel at. Just be careful around the snack bar. Someone is clearly living here, and all they want is to be left alone. It is best to oblige them. All I know is that this is a far different place than the one I remembered. The last time we were here, this giant building was so engulfed by plants that it was invisible to passer-byes.  We honestly thought that it had collapsed years ago. But now that the brush has been cleared, the snack bar is once again open, but not for business.

The Bridge of Death

The Abandoned Willimantic River Railway

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

“He who approaches the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, heir the other side he see.” Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

I love this quote. I always have. My friends and I used to quote this and all the other great lines from the immortal British classic all the time. Hell, I still quote it every once in awhile. It may sound a little extreme for this piece, but there has never been a structure we’ve come across that is more menacing than the abandoned bridge that was once the lifeline of the Willimantic River Railway. We’ve crossed it once before, and it was quite an exhilarating experience. Until our way back across it when the old structure began to creak. That is not a sound you ever want to hear when you’re standing fifty feet in the air over the running waters of the Willimantic River. Heart-stopping as it was, we did make it back safely.  It is an experience that I shall never forget. Though it may have been a bit scary, it was a nice thrill ride to conquer the bridge. Since then, we unofficially christened the old bridge with the quotable nickname. That was over two years ago. So in the early days of spring 2017, we decided to return to the Bridge of Death.

 The official entrance to the Willimantic River can be found on Columbia Avenue. Sitting right before the Columbia/Windham town line, the area is technically a part of the Hop River State Park Trail. Commonly used for biking and hiking, the trail begins here and extends all the way to the Vernon town line. It is describes as a perfect two mile ride or walk for your average outdoorsmen, but it wasn’t always this way. In the mid 1990’s, the town of Willimantic was a hotspot for railways and train yards. One of the older and more prominent lines ran across the picturesque Willimantic River. However, a fierce rainy season during the summer of 1955 caused major flooding in the area. The flooding permanently crippled some of the bridges on the Willimantic River line, causing it to be decommissioned shortly after. Following its closure, the land was converted into a recreational area. The former railway bed was removed and covered with gravel, making the paths perfect for bikers. It is now managed by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Energy and Protection, and maintained by local volunteers and organizations. However, not everything was removed from this former railway line.

Returning to the abandoned Willimantic River Railway was quite different than our first visit. The multiple tent cities had been completely cleared out. A few pieces of junk were still left behind, most notably some beat up bedroom furniture and a deck of playing cards. But the bridge itself still proudly stands…barely. Though she may look just as sardonically beautiful as she once was, we chose not to cross it this time. The old wooden supports for this former workhorse have taken a turn for the worse. And though the water was exceptionally high that day, it was still not worth the risk of crossing it again. Adventurer’s beware. Around the bridge, a lot of old track is still standing. Farther down the line, a couple chunks of old machinery can still be found. Even without crossing the bridge, it is still truly a sight to marvel at. It is a relic of the past, and a testament of fortitude to its original crafters. And while the world around her continues to change at a whirlwind pace, the Bridge of Death is still standing.